I get to check off another thing from my "thing's I've always wanted to do" list.
I jumped out of a turboprop plane at 13,000ft (4km) yesterday! bloody amazing experiance! impossible to decribe the sensation of it... But my timing was perfect, watched the sun set while falling from the sky!
I jumped Tandem (you can't go alone unless you have training and 16-25 dives or so) my jump instructor had about 11000 jumps under his belt, so I wasn't worried about saftey. I trusted the gear because he trusted the gear and he's strapped to me... there were 2 other tandem jumpers and two singles, so 8 jumpers in our plane. I watched the two singles go and I was the first tandem to go. you're on the front, so in the dicve you can't even see the person you're strapped to unless he reached around to give you signals.
Jumping out of the plane and the first 10 seconds or so are the freakiest... We jumped quick, right after the two singles. you hang out of the plane, not holding onto anything, only secured by your connection to your partner, smile for the camera and it's go time. You drop out of the plane, the first 5 seconds are really unstable, you can barely tell which way is up, two taps on the shoulder means you can uncross your arms and move your head. The first 10 seconds you're accelerating to 200km/h. the feeling of falling like that will never leave me. when I think of it, I feel it all over again! I bloody love it! once you hit terminal velocity it's just falling. the feeling in your stomach settles out...and you experiance the strongest wind you've ever felt, blowing right through your bones, the skin on your face practically rippling as it is being flash frozen by the windchill (it's -15c up there) and a the violent roar of the wind part your ears, which are covered by your dive cap, thank god.
We dropped from above the clouds at, so we fell through layers of them... it was almost totally clear in our area just a few light wispy bits on the way down, but there were lots of cool clouds in the near horizon, all 360 dgrees of it. You could see everything from Nelson to golden bay and the farewell spit! and we were over Moteka! When you're falling, looking straight down is kind of boring (as boring as it could be) because the ground below appears to be stationary, even when you're falling that fast... it's much more interesting to observed your periphery, the layers of clouds going by, what you can see on your horizons... the fact that you can see everything all around you and there is nothing between you and it as you're hurtling towards the earth, etc.
We did about 10 horizontal rotations near the end... like a propeller spinning horizontal. that was really cool. interesting g-forces when you do that!
at about 5000-4500 feet, after 50 seconds of freefall, your dive partner pulls the chute. you hear it pop, it's like a mini explosion from above, you get a good yank on your many, many pointed harness (the decelleration is not as jarring as I had imagined) and then everything is silent. dead silent. you realize that your ears are "popped" really far past... like when you scuba dive, but not painful. I did my ear clearing excersizes (lot's of airplane rides to practice on on this trip) and my hearing came back... I took off my goggles, my instructor loosened some of the harnesses for comfort and I kicked back for a nice floating around. that part was really pleasant. Incredible view (beautiful sunset) and you get to tell your partner what you want to look at and he points out what and where everyhting is, etc.
That part lasts about 5 minutes or so.
On the way down we visited one of the other dive pairs in the sky... flying close enough that we could almost shake hands and then dived into a really tight spin. that was really intense. you fall very quick and almost blackout as the blood gets sucked out of your brain and fills your legs. A nice corkscrew spin and a swoop and then came in for a nice soft landing. beautiful experiance. I would have hopped back in the plane right off the landing pad, had I been able to justify it finacially.. (the plane was already on the ground when we landed so I literally could have hopped right back in)
All in all, best $260nz I have ever spent! and something that a person really has to experiance to beable to understand..
aside from that experiance, in which everything else pales in comparison... hahah I had a really cool last couple of days.
I took a shuttlebus out of Nelson to Marahau at the end of the road, beginning of the trails in Abel Tasman national park. Really different there than I imagined... it's renound for it's golden beaches. The tides go out an incredible distance.. it's two different places, at high tide and at low tide as the low tide receeds 200-300m to reveal a scaping sand plane. I stayed at a backpackers called "The Barn" which was really cool. I reccomend it. 8 bunks in a sort of giant bunkbed arrangement (and twin and double rooms upstairs) Stained glass windows, skylights and fireplace, all in a log cabin style structure. really cool. Met some really nice people there, and learned an Israeli card game... I know how to say the name, but not spell it. fun game though.
In the morning I hastily booked a last minute Kayak trip.. which I found out was a guided tour in two person kayaks, which turned out to be alright. 4 of us including the guide, who was actually a really cool Kiwi dude. kyaked down a river inlet to the sea, which was cool because the bottom of the river was salt water with a skim of fresh water on top. you could see the level by leaves floating on the salt water below the fresh layer (I actually taught the guide that) then out into the calm waters of the bay. Explored the coastline, saw some geological features... broken apple, Elvis's head, etc, kyaked around an island and into a cave (the cave bit was really cool) stopped for lunch on a beach and what have you. Was pretty cool.. but I would have rather got myself a single kayak and wandered about on my own...that, and not pay $75 for a 5 hour excursion.
The skydive outfit piced me up in Marahau and dropped me in Nelson, saving me $17 on a shuttle bus fair (hitchin is not an option when you have to catch a flight in the morning) so was convienient.. but yeah between $260 for the skydive, $75 for kyaking, $20 for a hostel bed back at the Palace and $16 for a case of beer to celebrate... it made for an expensive day. Luckily free food found it's way to me. everywhere along the way.
Shipped home my camping gear, and warm weather gear, and everything else I didn't need in Thailand (13kg, $170nz to send, yikes!) it's great to have a nice light pack for a change!
Flew from Nelson to Christchurch today. It's miserably rainy here right now. I fly out in the morning to Thailand via Auckland and Hong Kong.I'm stupidly excited about that! I can't wait to see Asia!
ok. I'm going to go and give Jamie from Vipassana a ring and find some food. think there is a 5 dollar thai place nearby... but I'll be eating lots of thai soon!
I can tell already I'm going to miss the kiwi accent. I love the way they talk. I'll be back. for sure.
ok. love you all and next update will be from thailand!